updated 3/23/2009 9:51:56 AM ET 2009-03-23T13:51:56

Guest: Seth MacFarlane, Keith Olbermann

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice over):  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

That‘s the money we could be saving with Geithner: The treasury secretary on the hot seat over AIG.  A Democratic strategist summarizing for Chris Cillizza, “His position is not sustainable.  It‘s clear he knew and approved of bonuses at the White House now thoroughly condemns.”

The president disagrees.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES:  He‘s on the hot seat.  But I actually think that he is taking the right steps and we‘re going to have our economy back on the move.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Bringing up the other problem with the bonuses.  Outrageous as they are—are they overshadowing what we should know about how the recovery act is and isn‘t working?

Governor Palin only wants 69 percent of her stimulus package.  She is trying to refuse $288 million for Alaska, $170 million for education alone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. SARAH PALIN, ® ALASKA:  We can‘t accept the bait.  To me it‘s a bribe.  It‘s here, take these dollars.  But you‘ve got to grow your government.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Can Alaskans impeach their governor for willful refusal to accept federal funds?

How could you ever refuse a week of Republican sound bites like this one?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. STEVE LATOURETTE, ® OHIO:  That‘s the tightening of sphincters.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, ® IOWA:  Sucking the tit.

SAMUEL WURZELBACHER, “JOE THE PLUMBER”:  I‘m horny.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  The next generation of your GOP leadership, everybody.  Separating the bon mots from the mot justes with the master of the shockingly comedy bite, “Family Guy‘s” Seth McFarland.

Worsts: Brit Hume‘s dumbfounding admission, he was fed a buffet of daily talking points by an ultra conservative media site and, quote, “We certainly made tremendous use of it.”

And if you think you are following me on Twitter, you‘re not.  I‘m not on Twitter.  It‘s a fake.  And Twitter won‘t do anything about it.

And we wrap up “Know your liberal menace” week.  As Rachel Maddow interviews the Billo-Goldie choice, as the number one left-wing, elite media, conspiratorial, smear-mongering, guttersnipe, journalistic prostitute with greater influence than the “New York Times” but absolutely no audience at all—the devil himself: Me.

All that and more—now on COUNTDOWN.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He‘s a gone guy.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

OLBERMANN (on camera):  Good evening from Los Angeles.

The patient has massive internal bleeding and multiple organ failure, and Congress, tonight, still demands to know why the doctor failed to fix the patient‘s hangnail.  Our fifth story tonight: If the imagery is too (INAUDIBLE), the patient, our economy, the hangnail those AIG bonuses, and the doctor, Tim Geithner, the U.S. treasury secretary as of tonight anyway.

President Obama last night in this building, on “The Tonight Show,” standing by Mr. Geithner, standing by his performance, rejecting the current recrimination relay rocking Washington over the $165 million in bonuses handed out by AIG last week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  One of the things that I‘m trying to break is a pattern in Washington where everybody is always looking for somebody else to blame.  And I think Geithner is doing an outstanding job.  I think that we have a big mess on our hands.  It‘s not going to be solved immediately, but it is going to get solved, and the key thing is for everybody just to stay focused on doing the job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Mr. Obama, however, while suggesting sympathy for legal motives behind letting the bonuses through, sided ultimately with what he called their moral and ethical aspects, suggesting that moral outrage fuelled the House to vote its vote last night for a 90 percent tax on those bonuses.  A tax proposal that has run into problems before making it to the Senate floor, problems like the constitutionality of using taxes or any law to punish people after the fact.  Problems like the tax would not recoup anything from $2.5 billion in Merrill Lynch bonuses, for instance, last December.  Problems like Senate Budget ranking Republican Judd Gregg announcing today, he will oppose the retroactive bonus tax when it goes up for vote in the Senate, in likely different form, possibly next week.

And while AIG has done itself no favors with today‘s report in the “New York Times” that the company is actually now suing the U.S.  government for $306 million in alleged overpayment of taxes despite the fact that millions of this money involves AIG offshore tax havens, it is not just Republicans criticizing Geithner and the Obama White House for their handling of the AIG bonuses.  Democratic congressional leaders continued to stand by Geithner.  But Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post with us momentarily, quotes an unnamed Democratic strategist today saying of Geithner, quote, “His position is not sustainable.  It‘s clear he knew and approved of bonuses that the White House now thoroughly condemns.”

Former Obama economic adviser, Paul Krugman, writing today, that Congress didn‘t have many alternatives to the bonus tax bill, quote, “And for that I blame the Obama people.”  Adding that, quote, “Geithner et al have made it clear that they still have faith in the people who created the financial crisis,” that governments do a bad job of running banks as opposed presumably to the wonderful job that private bankers have done.  Quoting again, “This administration elected on the promise of change has already managed in an astonishingly short time to create the impression that it‘s owned by the wheeler-dealers and that leaves it with no ability to counter crude populism.”

With us now, as promised, Chris Cillizza, White House reporter for the “Washington Post,” author of “The Fix” blog on WashingtonPost.com, the man who always avoids crude populism.

(LAUGHTER)

OLBERMANN:  Good evening, Chris.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, WASHINGTONPOST.COM:  Populism in any form, but especially crude populism.

OLBERMANN:  Exactly.

CILLIZZA:  Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Refer to the refined version which is (INAUDIBLE) a barrel.

When Mr. Obama ultimately renounced the Reverend Wright last year, it was after Wright had essentially started to freelance, to go really off message.  As long as the president now considers Geithner a team player, is there any plausible scenario in which the president bows to this external criticism and shows Geithner the door?

CILLIZZA:  I will say no, but I do not think, Keith, that he will.  I think the president and the people around him do not like to buy into the sort of chattering class wisdom.  Oh, Geithner, he‘s in trouble.  He has to go.

They believe that outside of Washington, oftentimes, that Washington blows things out of proportion.  They don‘t like to play into that.  But if there are more revelations, if this continues to go south, if they can‘t—if the public relations battle looks entirely lost, and I‘ll put you back to another close ally of President Obama, Tom Daschle, when that nomination was clear it was not going to go, they smartly and pragmatically cut him loose.

I don‘t think Tim Geithner is anywhere near there.  But it is important to note, Keith, a lot of people are really holding their fire on this one.  Democrats, ABC News polled the 58 Democratic Senate offices; only 21 of those offices were willing to say “yes,” as the president, they had complete confidence in Tim Geithner.  A lot of people are being careful because they don‘t want—if something else comes out—they don‘t want to be on the record in support of him if they‘re ultimately going to have to throw him over the side.

OLBERMANN:  So, why are the Republicans who are—maybe even less dogmatic about this, why are they holding fire as this—because they perceive that anything screwing up or delaying the recovery might be countered by this wave of the crude populism we just spoke of?

CILLIZZA:  Part of it.  I will say two things, Keith.  One, I think, is—part of it is that he‘s a good punching bag.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.

CILLIZZA:  To be completely honest from a purely political perspective.  President Obama was elected on transparency and accountability.  We‘re going to put the smartest people in regardless of their past ties, you know, putting a lot of Clinton people in, putting people who ran against him in his cabinet.

Well, the Republicans are now going to say, well, Tim Geithner, he was supposed to be the best and brightest and he didn‘t even know about these bonuses.  So, it gives them a good talking point.

The other thing is, I‘m not sure they have someone who they think is better.  And this situation is—it‘s easy to boil down politically that it‘s a simple thing—they shouldn‘t have gotten these bonuses.  The broad changes the Obama administration is trying to make in the economy are complex.  It is not easily done.

And I think Republicans are a little bit worried if he gets pushed out the door, what does it do to the nation as a whole?  I think everybody is concerned about that.

OLBERMANN:  Obviously, nothing succeeds like success.  The obvious answer to what Geithner and Obama do to make this go away is fix the economy.  If they fix the economy, Geithner is obviously not in any trouble.

CILLIZZA:  Yes.

OLBERMANN:  What is the realistic short-term solution?  What do we expect even just to hear from the White House about this on the Sunday talk shows?

CILLIZZA:  You know, Keith, I think you‘ve nailed it.  The hard thing is—is the Obama campaign—the Obama administration, excuse me, is trying to put long-term solutions in place when a lot of people are panicked in the short-term.  They‘re basically saying, give us a chance.  Wait and see.  We believe these things will work, but it‘s a complex situation and they may not work in the immediate future.

Well, people want answers quickly in the short-term.  I don‘t think any of these policies they put in place are going to make a difference, but they can—from a public relations perspective, this get to the Sunday shows—they can go out and say, we are doing everything we can.  Tim Geithner is the smartest, best equipped guy to do this.

The AIG stuff does undermine that argument a little bit, Keith, but I do think that that‘s what they‘ll continue to say.  From a public relations perspective—this is the best guy.  We need patience.  It‘s a complex situation.

Whether the American public buys it or not, I think, it‘s still an open question.

OLBERMANN:  Chris Cillizza of the “Washington Post” and “The Fix” at WashingtonPost.com—and we‘ll handle the crude populism over here.  Thanks for your time, have a good weekend.

(LAUGHTER)

CILLIZZA:  Refined populism only, Keith.  You, too.

OLBERMANN:  Got it.

OLBERMANN:  We suggested earlier that 165 million constitutes a hangnail compared to the bigger problems facing us, and our economy.  Speaking to Jay Leno last night, the president seemed to acknowledge that, yes, the hangnail must be removed but also that it must not distract from that larger mission of making the systemic change needed to reestablish a sound and secure American economy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  We‘re going to do everything we can to see if we can get these bonuses back.  But, I think, the most important thing that we can do is make sure that we put in a bunch of financial regulatory mechanisms to prevent companies like an AIG holding the rest of us hostage.  Because that‘s—that‘s the real problem.  The problem is not just what‘s happened over the last six months.  The problem is what was happening for years where people were able to take huge excessive risks with other people‘s money, putting the entire financial system at risk and there were no checks, there were no balances, there was nobody overseeing the process.

Here‘s the dirty little secret though.  Most of the stuff that got us into trouble was perfectly legal.  And that is a sign of how much we‘ve got to change our laws.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Mr. Obama‘s remarks coming after former Bush deputy

press secretary, Tony Fratto as a new contributor to CNBC, warned

Congress to not use regulation to punish Wall Street.  And after

Minority Leader Boehner claimed that Wall Street had never been

deregulated, in so doing, suggesting even the few Republicans still left

in power are rewriting the history books in preparation for opposing new

re-regulation, despite the fact that even remaining Bush appointees like

the Fed chair, Ben Bernanke, are now publicly calling for exactly that -

re-regulation.

       

All while Congress remains focused on crafting legislation to get back 90 percent of $165 million, rather than properly regulate $1 trillion in bailout money or drag the multi-trillion dollars shadow market back into the light for good.

Let‘s bring in MSNBC political analyst, Richard Wolffe.  Thanks for your time tonight, Richard.

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  My pleasure, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  If Obama says the most important thing is regulation, why have we not in turn seen a push for regulation parallel to the rush to the bailout and the rush to the stimulus package?

WOLFFE:  Well, the administration is trying to have this push for regulation.  But you‘re not going to get the A-1 lead in the “New York Times” starting with the words the president just used, financial regulatory mechanisms.

(LAUGHTER)

WOLFFE:  It‘s not sexy.  People don‘t think there are votes in it.  But what they‘re talking about is an incredibly fundamental reworking of the relationship between business and government.  It really is as big as the first time this debate came up in recent memory which is with Ronald Reagan, who rolled back regulation.  You know, a number of times through the campaign, then-candidate Obama compared himself to Reagan, wanting to have the opposite effect, but as big effect on the culture as he did.  And I think, what you‘re seeing here is a rolling back.

You know, what Reagan did was to undo many of the things that have done from the ‘30s and ‘40s and ‘50s.  When it comes to regulation, the things that were set up in that period, in the ‘30s, are some of the biggest decisions in Washington, like the Federal Trade Commission.  That‘s what he‘s leading up to.  But I don‘t think people are paying attention.

OLBERMANN:  So, to that point, have the president and the treasury secretary screwed this up to some degree only by dint of having to spend time, spend political capital on a deeply symbolic, obviously angering, but in the big picture, relatively trivial issue of these Wall Street bonuses?

WOLFFE:  There have been many screw-ups.  And actually, I think, the big screw-ups have come from the Federal Reserve, which knew most about the AIG situation much more and much earlier than even treasury, and certainly, the White House.  But—if they were smart about this inside the White House, they would have positioned themselves leading up to this bonus story to say, this is exactly why we need to move ahead with the agenda on regulatory issues.  But, in fact, they were blind sided.  Their radar wasn‘t working right or folks in the Fed just didn‘t tell them.  So, it‘s more of a screw-up than anything by design.

OLBERMANN:  But is there also a positive side to it because, perhaps, the president doesn‘t mind this dustup over AIG and this very easy to understand part of it because it creates this public outrage, this, you know, crude populism and he can challenge that crude populism into public support for restoring regulation.  If you say, here‘s the problem you‘re angry about, the solution are more regulations—you make regulations suddenly, obviously connected to something as easy to understand as AIG?

WOLFFE:  Well, we have certainly arrived at that point.  This week is sort of pre-Leno and post-Leno.  And I think, post-Leno, yes.  You can see how the president has led up to this point.  But I think it‘s been a hit-and-miss affair.

And if you think about the start of the week where you have Larry Summers going out there, you know, saying, “Thou shalt not abrogate contract willy-nilly,” I mean, you know, this wasn‘t, by design.  But they have got there in the end.

The question, you know, you got to sustain this.  This is a deeply complex thing.  Every financial lobbyist in town and, yes, there are still many of them, will be on top of this one.  If can be dragged down and weakened.  They really have to sustain it to make it worthwhile.

OLBERMANN:  And are there signs, in fact, yet, whether the stimulus money is starting to stabilize the economy, to staunch the losses—and if it has, does that actually hurt Obama because it might remove some of the urgency in this issue?

WOLFFE:  Yes.  I think the days of sort of rushing things through are pretty much over.  You got a Congress and a political sort of body which is just too resistant to this stuff.  And in terms of whether he can proceed, you know, it‘s going have to be—just by force of the argument here, you cannot rush regulatory stuff.  It just has to be done slowly.

OLBERMANN:  Richard Wolffe of MSNBC—as always, thanks, and have a great weekend.

WOLFFE:  And you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  There is something else—something bizarre that the instability of the economy seems to have induced, and not just the first governor to follow through on the threat to cut off her nose despite the stimulus face turning out to be Sarah Palin, though that did happen and we need to talk about it.  No, I mean, the fact that the instability in the economy seems to have induced instability in the mouth.  In just one week, elected Republican officials have advocated suicide, analogized breastfeeding—only they didn‘t call it that—and publicized the tighten of the sphincter.

And now, the populist hope of the party, Joe the Plumber, the guy with Mr. Clean chrome dome, has gotten up at a conservative dinner said that the adulation and affection he has received and perceived from the politicians has left him sexually aroused—only he didn‘t say it that way either.  Remarks so crazy in isolation or in context that they seem as if Seth McFarland had written them for a flash back scene on his show, “Family Guy.”  So, Seth has come in to talk about Republican declarations about suicide, breastfeeding, tight sphincters and sexual arousal.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  For Governor Sarah Palin, the magic number is 69, the percentage of stimulus funds she will condescend to keep for the state of Alaska.  The rest of it, including the money for special needs kids, that goes back.

Worsts: Why you need to bailout on Twitter right now.  There is a fake me on Twitter and on—well, there are other fakes out there and Twitter will not do anything about them.

And a special guest performance tonight on this program from

Rachel Maddow, who will interview the worst of the worst of the liberal

menace facing us

You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  It‘s official.  Governor Sarah Palin is refusing stimulus money, in the brave new world of turning down hundreds of millions that would help the neediest and—in our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN: Twisting her position as governor, quite possibly, to angle for the presidency.  The Alaska governor is saying she is refusing 31 percent of the money that her state is due from the federal economic stimulus package, $288 million out $930 million in total.  Palin is accepting money for construction projects and Medicaid reimbursements, but not for the funding directed at other governmental operations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  We can‘t accept the bait.  To me it‘s a bribe.  It‘s here, take these dollars.  But you‘ve got to grow your government.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  The governor said she doesn‘t want to take money for programs that the state would have to continue when the federal dollars draws up.  But Alaska state lawmakers like Les Gara, an Anchorage Democrat, said it was bad governing to refuse to improve schools and reduce unemployment just because that money might not last forever.  And Anchorage‘s acting mayor, Matt Claman, said, quote, “Her rationale is like turning down a gift card because it expires in two years.”

The governor would be refusing money for weatherization in Alaska, energy efficiency grants in Alaska, air quality grants in Alaska, emergency food assistance in Alaska, nutrition programs in Alaska, school lunch programs in Alaska, child care development grants in Alaska, immunizations in Atlanta—or Alaska, possibly Atlanta as well, homeless grants in Alaska, senior meals in Alaska, and expanded unemployment benefits in Alaska.  But the largest chunk of money that Palin is refusing $170 million for education, including for the economically disadvantaged and students with special needs.

You will recall that the governor who has a baby with Down syndrome proclaimed during her vice presidential acceptance speech, that if she was elected, parents who have children with special needs would, quote, “have a friend and advocate in the White House.”

On that note, let‘s call in the Washington editor of “The Nation” magazine, Chris Hayes.

Good evening, Chris.

CHRIS HAYES, THE NATION:  Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  How much of a hypocrite, not politically, but personally—how much of a personal schmuck do you have to be to first use your own special needs child in your campaign and then turn around or turn down free federal money for special needs children in your own state?

HAYES:  Well, you know, to be honest, I think it‘s a broader problem than Sarah Palin.  I think there‘s actually a very deep tendency among conservatives to view government programs and government services as only counting when they happen to other people.  So, all the government services that one takes advantage, whether it‘s the deduction on interest on one‘s mortgage on the income taxes, or if it‘s a special education benefits for special needs children—somehow, those don‘t count when they‘re actually acting in your own personal life.  But as soon as someone out there gets a food stamp or a check or the government does something for someone else, suddenly, that‘s an outrage and that‘s to put a big government.

I think that hypocrisy is much more common than just Sarah Palin actually.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, and perhaps she‘s just saying, to rephrase what you just said, she was intending to be an advocate for her special needs child and to the rest of them—they can go to hell.

HAYES:  Right.

OLBERMANN:  Since she‘s already taking criticism for this within the state, what is the upside for her unless she is indeed trying to carve out her opposition to President Obama now and perhaps in 2012?

HAYES:  Yes, that‘s absolutely what this is about.  If you look at the three governors that are rejecting stimulus money, it‘s Mark Sanford in South Carolina, it‘s Bobby Jindal in Louisiana, and it‘s Sarah Palin—all of whom, I think, are pretty clearly going to be 2012 competitors.  And at this point, this is, I think, a very blatant pander to the Republican base.  I don‘t think it has anything to do with governance.  I think it‘s pure, 100 percent presidential primary politics.

OLBERMANN:  The governor did acknowledge in this sort of spasm of reality based observation, that the state lawmakers there might try to change her decision—could they try to change her decision in another way other than voting it and then sorting it all?  I mean, is this not a form of willful malfeasance by an elected officer?  I mean, you know, they impeach governors, don‘t they?

HAYES:  Well, they do.  They recall them sometimes, too, as we have seen.  I have no idea what the state constitutional provisions are for recall or impeachment in Alaska.  But I do think that she‘s going to take a serious political hit.

And I actually think this is a very high-stakes gamble by all three governors.  I mean, in some ways, it‘s having their cake and eating it, too, you know?  They get to be the both the sort of virtuous upstanding reactionary who sticks it to the White House and the big government liberals and they also get to dole out the services and construction projects and all of the things that make you a very popular local politician.

But I do think that if the economy does turn around, if the Democrats and the Obama administration are having seen as being instrumental in that turn around, retroactively, this decision then looks really terrible.

OLBERMANN:  And that presidential thing, just—without knowing the future, why does she assume it‘s a net plus?  I mean, you rile up your decreasing base, but clearly, you‘re going to alienate the growing middle as long as this does not end up in a depression.

HAYES:  That is correct.  But—at this early stage, all these people are thinking about is winning the primary.  And winning the primary increasingly in American politics in the 21st century, and winning a Republican primary means taking totally crazy positions.  I mean, that is how you do best in primaries, as you said, it‘s an increasingly small base.  There is more and more ideological fervor, the more the coalition shrinks.  And so, that‘s who they are catering to.

OLBERMANN:  So, when it becomes easier to get a nomination for a third party when you don‘t have to pretend that you‘re nuts, that‘s when the Republicans slide to third place, I suppose.

Chris Hayes of “The Nation”—thank you, Chris.  Have a good weekend.

HAYES:  You, too, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  All right, let‘s go out to the statue garden and—yes, I don‘t want to cause any panic, but I think a couple of the statues may be, you know, overheating.

Speaking of which, are you one of the 13,983 people who think they are following me on Twitter?  Bad news—I‘m not on Twitter and they won‘t do anything about the fraud.

Worst Persons ahead—this is COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Bests in a moment.  And one Adam 12, one Adam 12, calling all cars, be on the look out for Satan.

First on this date in 1922, Raymond Walter Goulding was born, the back half of the most enduring American comedy team of the 20 century, Bob and Ray.  As Bob Elliot, father of Chris Elliott, grandfather of Abby Elliot now of “Saturday Night Live” will tell you, they were not “Ray and Bob” only because when their employers at radio station WHDH in Boston asked them to do comedy programs wrapping around afternoon baseball broadcasts, the station wanted to call the shows “Matinee with Bob and Ray.”

Ray Goulding passed away shortly after his birthday in 1990, but he continues to be an inspiration here.

Let‘s play Oddball.

We begin in Valencia, Spain, with something that would have pleased Ray, the closing ceremonies of the Phallus Festival of Fire.  The grand finale of the week-long festivities—featuring the lighting of several tall balsa and paper statues.  Political figures and children‘s characters are usually the victims, like poor Horton here.  Horton now hears a crackle.  Earlier in the week, the statues were judged.  The better ones earned cash prizes.  Just kind of a quick and easy way to get rid of them.  Kind of like a fiery, post-apocalyptic Rose Parade.  But they do it on purpose in Spain.  For this, we salute you. 

To Florida, where the place is lousy with crocodiles.  So it is not really a shocker when you, every once in a while, roll over one of them with your car.  This little ripper had his jaw broken in a car accident.  Luckily though, the Miami Zoo was able to get ahold of him.  They rebuilt him, better, stronger, faster.  Now he‘s the bionic croc. 

Bets say without the four steel plates and the 41 screws they put into the animal, he would have died and looked the skull you just saw.  The zoo says the crocodile has a new lease on life.  We remind you to tune in for the next episode of the Bionic Croc, when he takes on Lindsay Wagner. 

For the best week of sound bytes ever, who better to turn to than the creator of Stewie.  Seth MacFarlane reacts to the GOP gone wild sound bite wise.  The big thank you to Bernie Goldberg and Bill O‘Reilly for naming MSNBC as the leaders of the left wing jackal pack of ours.  Rachel Maddow joins us as guest interviewer of the head MSNBC jackal.   

These stories ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s top three best persons in the world.  Number three, best clarification, us.  Last night special comment, I said Citigroup‘s CEO Vikram Pandit, quote, said he would show his leadership by accepting compensation of one dollar a year.  In fact, he then accepted a total compensation package for 2008 of 38 million dollars. 

To be precise, Mr. Pandit accepted the 38 million in January of 2008, then last month told Congress he would only take one dollar this year.  Also, most of his 38 million was in deferred stock options, which are now worth about three million.  So he might have wound up making only a dollar a year anyway. 

Number two, best headline from Farc.com.  This week, police rescued an anonymous 56 year old woman who had fallen through the layer of ice covering the famous literary landmark Walden Pond.  The woman was taken to the hospital.  She was fined.  The Farc submitter‘s headline for the story, “Woman Falls Through Ice on Walden Pond, She Was Rescued After a Thoreau Search.” 

Number one, best church lady, an unidentified administrative assistant at a church in Arlington Washington, stands accused of stealing more than 73,000 dollars from the rectory.  In court documents released today we learned her motive.  The church lady, you say, did it have anything to do with Satan.  She, in fact, told the detectives, quote, Satan had a big part in the theft.  Well, isn‘t that special. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  In a week that brought us a president on late night TV, we also got a series of Republicans whose language and imagery seemed better suited for R rated TV.  Our third story, the week of sound bite gold.  In reviewing these oddities in my mind, it occurred to me that these sound bytes felt just like the flashbacks in the singular Fox comedy “Family Guy.”  So joining me now, the creator of “Family Guy” and American Dad,” Seth MacFarlane. 

SETH MACFARLANE, “FAMILY GUY” CREATOR:  A great pleasure finally to be here. 

OLBERMANN:  His new animated series “The Cleveland Show” debuts this fall on Fox, making it—what, you have 50 percent of the Fox prime time line up? 

MACFARLANE:  Something like that.  We are just angling to buy Fox News and then maybe clean house around there. 

OLBERMANN:  I hope you have a lot of money for that.  How much can I give you?  Let‘s go through these one at a time, shall we?  The Media Research Council, which is a lunatic fringe website run by the perpetually angry Brent Bozell, hosted Joe the Plumber last night, Samuel J. Wurzelbacher.  Joe the Plumber likes his snake. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SINGING)

JOE WURZELBACHER, “JOE THE PLUMBER”:  Hey, thank you guys.  Got all this love in the room and everything.  I‘m horny. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACFARLANE:  Wow. 

OLBERMANN:  Yes, that image guarantees everybody in the country an extra week of psychotherapy, doesn‘t it? 

MACFARLANE:  They are the people who are supposed to be opposed to homosexuality. 

OLBERMANN:  That sort of vibe? 

MACFARLANE:  That was kind of an oddly gay entrance.  Wasn‘t it? 

God bless the USA in that wistful tone. 

OLBERMANN:  And the guy looks like he just jumped off the Brawny towel thing. 

MACFARLANE:  I‘m thinking Vito in “The Sopranos.” 

OLBERMANN:  Well.  Let‘s—if that was good, now we have a Congressman whose name is, in fact, Latourette.  Congressman Steve Latourette of Ohio said this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. STEVE LATOURETTE ®, OHIO:  Ross Perot, when he ran for president in 1992, talked about the giant sucking sound.  Today, there is another giant sucking sound going on in Washington, D.C.  That is the tightening of sphincters on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, as people are having to explain who put into this stimulus bill this provision of law. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  All right, if you saw a line in one of your scripts -- 

MACFARLANE:  All I heard was put in, sphincter and stimulus. 

OLBERMANN:  And don‘t forget sucking sound.  If you had a piece of script that has handed to you by one of the people who write with you, and it had all those things in there, you‘d hesitate for a moment, wouldn‘t you? 

MACFARLANE:  I would say, let me have a four hour conversation with Fox Broadcast Standards, and then we‘ll see if we can maybe get two of those words. 

OLBERMANN:  Unlike Joe the Plumber, who is coming up and ad-libbing, and thinking he‘s saying something clever, this is a Congressman reading from a prepared speech. 

MACFARLANE:  Joe the Plumber didn‘t even put on a tie, did he. 

Nobody said, you might want to dress up for this thing. 

OLBERMANN:  No, no, no.  That would ruin the whole image.  He is supposed to dress down.  We can continue this.  It actually gets a little worse.  We‘ll see Congressman Latourette and his syndrome and we‘ll raise you Senator Chuck Grassley.  Listen to this one. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY ®, IOWA:  It is irresponsible for corporations to give bonuses at this time, when they are sucking the tit of the taxpayer. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Now Seth, this is—this is just—

MACFARLANE:  Wow.  He meant to say teet. 

OLBERMANN:  I suppose.  He is from Ohio.  Maybe he is being very progressive.  Isn‘t that a scene from “Family Guy?”

MACFARLANE:  Yes.  We had Stewie suckling Peter‘s teet.  I‘m classy enough to use the word teet, but apparently this guy is smoking too much Grassley. 

OLBERMANN:  Do you suddenly feel like you have been outdone by members of the U.S. Congress.  You are not dirty enough? 

MACFARLANE:  We should wrap it up.  We should go off the air after this.  We could not—if we wanted to say sucking the tit—first of all, we can‘t say the word tit on Fox.  I don‘t know if you can here. 

OLBERMANN:  Well, you have.  Put me on camera again.  Tit.  So now we‘ve said it, because we are quoting the senator.  So we can get away with it. 

MACFARLANE:  I don‘t think O‘Reilly would have the balls to say tit on the air. 

OLBERMANN:  One more.  Senator Grassley and this earlier example.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRASSLEY:  That would make me feel a little bit better towards them if they followed the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say, I‘m sorry.  And then either do one of two things, resign or go commit suicide. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Now, this could have been worse.  He could have suggested commit suicide and then resign. 

MACFARLANE:  That probably would have been bad. 

OLBERMANN:  Do you worry when you hear this stuff that you are just not cutting edge enough, if the politicians are willing to speak in these terms? 

MACFARLANE:  In this day and age, when C-Span gives you more edge than “Family Guy,” I think we‘re in trouble. 

OLBERMANN:  Let‘s take a couple of minutes to talk back in the real world of animated comedy.  You have “American Dad,” “Family Guy” and now you‘ve got another Star Wars episode coming up this season? 

MACFARLANE:  Yes, our “Empire Strikes Back.”  Which is called “Something Something Something Darkside.” 

OLBERMANN:  OK.  You have a spin off.  You created another—

MACFARLANE:  It is our “Jefferson‘s” to “Family Guy‘s” “All in The Family.”  Cleveland, the African American neighbor, leaves to go back to his home town of Stool Bend, Virginia.  Get the joke, kids. 

OLBERMANN:  Thank you, senator. 

MACFARLANE:  Sucking the tit of his old hometown. 

OLBERMANN:  I understand this—I remember.  How long have you been in preparation for “the Cleveland Show?”  I did a voice for it a year ago?  Two years ago? 

MACFARLANE:  It takes nine months to do each episode of any of these animated shows.  “The Cleveland Show” is a brand new show, it‘s over a year of preparation. 

OLBERMANN:  You draw every character yourself, is that correct? 

MACFARLANE:  I designed a lot of the characters.  “The Cleveland Show” is first one I sort of shared design credit with some very talented artists on our staff. 

OLBERMANN:  You‘ve also now—there is another online animated series? 

MACFARLANE:  “Cavalcade,” the briskly titled “Seth MacFarlane‘s Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy.”  Something that maybe would instantly catch people‘s eye.  It‘s always good to title something long enough that they have to grab a seat to read it. 

OLBERMANN:  How do you have time to come in here to do an interview? 

MACFARLANE:  It is you, my friend. 

OLBERMANN:  OK.  I appreciate that.  How do you have time to do anything?  You have three broadcast series right now.  And then you still do live shows with the characters from “Family Guy,” right? 

MACFARLANE:  Yes. 

OLBERMANN:  Now something online.  Why don‘t you just take it door to door, it would be faster, right? 

MACFARLANE:  It is like ground hog day.  Anything different is good.  I‘m there all day, every day.  It is seven days a week.  When this kind of thing comes up—This is what I do instead of going to the tropics, Keith.  I‘ll come here. 

OLBERMANN:  This is relief for you? 

MACFARLANE:  It‘s no time to take a break, so you have to do something to break up the day. 

OLBERMANN:  The creative urge is that strong?  It is pouring out of you?  You have to get it down on paper, one way or another? 

MACFARLANE:  Yes.  Yes.  These thoughts are just too precious to stay in our heads. 

OLBERMANN:  Should we, before you go, wrap up a cassette with those sound bites on them again? 

MACFARLANE:  Sure. 

OLBERMANN:  That sounds like three episodes right there. I got it, politicians who suddenly get so offensive that Stewie has to shut them down.  Good enough?

MACFARLANE:  Exactly.  Yes, sure.  Let‘s do it.   

OLBERMANN:  There it is.  Seth MacFarlane, creator of “Family Guy,” and the upcoming “Cleveland Show.”  I think also—what‘s it, one of those—is there another show on TV that you do? 

MACFARLANE:  There may possibly be.  It‘s getting to the point where I‘m not entirely sure. 

OLBERMANN:  Well, it‘s good to be busy, is the one man economic stimulus, Seth MacFarlane.  Thanks for coming in. 

MACFARLANE:  My pleasure, my friend. 

OLBERMANN:  The culmination of left wing smear merchant week is just ahead.  Rachel Maddow joins me to interview the guy representing the worst of the worst on the Bill-O/Goldie list. 

And when she joins you again at the top of the hour, Rachel talks to Craig Robinson on being dissed by his own brother-in-law, who happens to be president of the United States, over his March Madness picks. 

And worst persons, that Media Research Council dinner that got Joe all excited; Brit Hume also spoke at it.  He admitted to turning right wing talking points into Fixed News.  That is next.  This is COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  The worst flaming, stinking, pink-o, left wing, liberal slime merchant in America.  Rachel Maddow steps in as guest interviewer of the man who represents the top draft pick in the Bill-O the Clown/Bernie Goldberg axis of evil.  That‘s next, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s number two story, tonight‘s worst persons in the world. 

The bronze to House Minority Leader John Boehner, who basically asked an interviewer on the financial crisis, who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?  “There was no deregulation of anything in the financial services industries.  As a matter of fact, there was an increase of regulation.” 

Not counting the Graham-Leech-Bliley Act of 1999, a major step

towards financial deregulation, permitting banks to merge with

securities firms and financial firms.  That was the assessment of the

Heritage Foundation, a conservative next.  Graham-Leech-Bliley voted for

by Congressman John Boehner of Ohio. 

Our runner up, Brit Hume of Fixed News, for most of its history, host of its purported straight news cast, and chief of its Washington bureau.  Made an admission at a D.C. dinner last night as startling as if he had confessed to making up the news out of cloth or reading it off a Ouigi Board.  “I want to say a word of thanks to Brent Bozell and the team at Media Research Center and all the contributors for the tremendous amount of material that the Media Research Center provided me for so many years when I was anchoring “Special Report.”  I don‘t know what we would have done without them.  It was a daily sort of buffet of material to work from.  And we certainly made tremendous use of it.” 

Don‘t know what you would have done without them, Brit?  Might have done the news. 

But our winner is Twitter.  I told you this was trouble.  I find out today that I have 13,900 some odd followers on Twitter.  I‘m not on Twitter.  I tried to sign up last summer and abandoned the project.  I found this out when I got a piece of junk e-mail today, at my address, from some outfit trying to barnacle on to the Twitter process.  Though it was my address, it had somebody else‘s name on it, possibly whoever was perpetuating the fraud.  The subject line read “Dan Cooper Media, local Tweet request.”  And the e-mail began, “hi Dan Cooper Media.”

Who is Dan Cooper and why would he be getting spam e-mail about my fake Twitter account?  He is one of the five architects of Fox News.  Despite all this, Twitter will not suspend the phony account in my name.  Just remember, whoever you think you are following on Twitter, might be them and it might not.  Twitter, tonight‘s worst persons in the world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  The conflict Bill O‘Reilly faces in his animus towards me is laid bear every time he attacks MSNBC or NBC News or General Electric.  He huffs and puffs about those proxies because he cannot say my name.  Literally, he tried it once in 1998 and mispronounced it, Olbermann. 

Since he never makes mistakes, he can‘t go on now and pronounce it differently, because that would be a tacit admission that he makes mistakes and he never makes mistakes. 

So the proxy thing is taken to its extreme now, and he and Bernard Goldberg award MSNBC the number one spot among their lefty culprits of present day America.  They meant me.  Yes, our number one story, know your top five Bill-O and Goldie left wing smear merchants week, the finale. 

We have been graced, you will recall, with a visit from Janeane Garofalo, the fifth most powerful liberal of the media, and Markos Moulitsas of the number three Daily Kos, and Eric Byrnes of Media Matters, honorable mention.  To celebrate, I have tried my best this week, in particular, to adhere to all of the positions promulgated by the left wing smear merchant command center. 

But now, I confess, I must finally be held to account. 

Joining me now to account for myself about my trespasses, my deputy bureau chief here at Slime Incorporated, Rachel Maddow.  Hi, Rachel. 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR:  We‘re number one.  We‘re number one.  

Hi, Keith.  I have to grill you here.  I have to ask you what your feelings are about being on the top of this totally inexplicable list?  Do you feel pride?  Are you mystified? 

OLBERMANN:  It is a combination of pride and irrelevancy.  Do you get this sense too?  I sort of sit here and I‘m thinking, I‘m in the middle of somebody else‘s delusion.  Is there some way I can push a hole through his balloon, and free him from his own insanity?  But I don‘t think there is any way out of this.  We‘re all along.  It is Bill-O‘s delusion and we are just here for the ride. 

MADDOW:  In order to prep for talking to you about this, I went through the transcripts of this O‘Reilly show.  Mr. Goldberg explaining his list to O‘Reilly.  I have to say, I don‘t understand either of them very well, but I don‘t get it.  He says MSNBC executives have made a business decisions to allow defamation of conservatives, and says that makes them hookers.  He used the word hookers.  Do you have any idea what the hooker thing is about? 

OLBERMANN:  He is referring to the Civil War General Joseph Hooker.  I think that‘s what‘s he‘s talking about.  I think the most interesting part about that, as you well know, this idea that there are these decision makers in MSNBC management who have allowed all this to happen, all this smearing to go on. 

First off, there are no decision makers in MSNBC management.  You know that.  I know that.  Second of all, there is barely any MSNBC management.  You know that.  I know that.  The viewers know that fully well.  The structure of this, it is wonderful to watch paranoia build on itself, to have this image there must be a gigantic nefarious machine, that, by the way has no influence, and gets no rating.  But it is a giant nefarious machine.  There are people pulling strings. 

I can barely get a glass of water in here.  I don‘t know about you.  The idea of strings being pulled is just—I wish we had strings being pulled, don‘t you? 

MADDOW:  It was like when we found out we were on that lefty e-mail list. 

OLBERMANN:  The J list. 

MADDOW:  The J list that was secretly orchestrating what was going on in the world of American politics and media.  I though, I have never heard about that, but if there is such a thing, how do I get invited.  It sounds great. 

OLBERMANN:  It is a conspiracy so secret that the people who are in it don‘t even know they are in it.  That is what makes a good conspiracy.  Don‘t you forget it, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  Mr. Goldberg takes these great pains to say that he wants to be absolutely clear about the fact that he thinks we have no influence.  But it is hard to say that we are the worst liberal offender in all of media and also that we don‘t matter. 

OLBERMANN:  The only way that could be true if we have like seven viewers who we have turned into—from Bill O‘Reilly‘s relatives, we have turned them into, I don‘t know, Amy Goodman.  If we had that much - - clearly it can‘t be a question of numbers.  It must be intensity.  We must have turned a half a dozen people or maybe seven into these walking time bombs of red menace.  That is the only way—otherwise, the whole thing does, in fact, fall down to the ground.  The idea that we are somehow ahead of the “New York Times” in influence in any regard is palpably laughable and would be to anybody who wasn‘t as delusional as either Mr. O‘Reilly or Mr. Goldberg, I think. 

MADDOW:  Still, it feel nice to the ego just for a second.  Keith, let me ask you this seriously, why do you think you make them so crazy?  You obviously drive them to distraction.  You personally do.  Do you know why you bug them so much? 

OLBERMANN:  Again, this is something that came up in the interview with Eric Byrnes from Media Matters.  There is nothing worse to people who are kind of not really there than having their words quoted accurately back to them.  There is nothing—no words I have ever put in Bill O‘Reilly‘s mouth, except a couple of hyperbole cases where I would say, now, I‘m making this up.  There is nothing like that.  I think that‘s the problem.  It is just the facts.  As Harry Truman said, I am just giving them the facts and they think it‘s hell. 

OLBERMANN:  Yes.  That‘s exactly right.  Well, Keith, thank you for your time tonight. 

OLBERMANN:  No, no, thank you.  I hear you have President Obama‘s brother-in-law on the show? 

MADDOW:  Yes, Craig Robinson is going to be on the show tonight.  I have heard that he is going to be joining us from an actual basketball court.  We are going to talk March Madness and the president‘s bracket. 

OLBERMANN:  That‘s excellent.  Rachel, thank you for interviewing me.  Have a good weekend.

MADDOW:  You too, Keith.  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  That is COUNTDOWN for this the 2,141st day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq.  A programming note, I‘m on “Real Time With Bill Maher” tonight live on HBO at 10:00 Eastern.  Then they repeat it like nine times.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, from Los Angeles, good night and good luck.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

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